Cultivating a Metta Mind
I invite you to do the same. Choose phrases you like to say, or a melody—one that touches your heart—and see if you can "scan" your words so they fit. The phrases I say fit three melodies that are dear to me. Once you've written your song, sing it to yourself always. After you've done this, you will feel different and the people around you will also feel different. Begin now. Make yourself comfortable. Take a deep breath. Relax. Try to smile. The Buddha taught that there is no other person in the whole world more worthy of your well-wishing than yourself. I love that teaching! It's so kind and it makes so much sense. When I am unhappy—tense, frightened, tired, or irritable—I think, "Of course! Who else could I possibly wish well to? I can't see past myself. I need to feel better first."
These are the words I am saying these days. Until you find others more resonant for you, I invite you to try them. Say them out loud if you're alone; otherwise, think them. Begin with yourself.
May I feel protected and safe / May I feel content and pleased / May my physical body provide me with strength / May my life unfold smoothly with ease.
Now say the phrases again. This time, stop after each phrase and take a deep breath in and out. Close your eyes as you take the breath and feel how that wish feels in your body. Then make the next wish and feel how that one feels.
When you know the wishes by heart, close your eyes and say them over and over. Pay attention to how good it feels to wish yourself well. Later, you'll send your wishes to others. For now, just yourself—for as long as you like. And really do try to smile.
This column is excerpted from Pay Attention, For Goodness' Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness by Sylvia Boorstein. Copyright © 2002 by Sylvia Boorstein. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. Inc. Sylvia Boorstein resides in Santa Rosa, California.